Retailers with physical stores that also have an online presence (one form of multi-channel retailers) have unique challenges. Consumers bringing their prior attitudes towards the retailer to the site is one such challenge. However, researchers studying website issues focus only on consumers' evaluations of website characteristics, failing to account for how prior attitudes towards the firm and congruity of the website with the retailer's physical store image might affect information processing and attitude formation. The current study draws on categorization theory, by proposing that increases in the congruity between the retailer's known offline and their online presence should decrease the emphasis new visitors place on website characteristics (a piecemeal process) and increase the influence of their prior attitudes towards the firm (an attitude transfer process). Results support predictions and provide guidance for multi-channel retailers.
Multi-channel retailing Image congruity Piecemeal process Attitudinal transfer
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